What’s Causing Your Headache?

Few things are more uncomfortable and distracting than a headache. Millions of Americans deal with regular headaches, with many experiencing them on a daily basis. Headaches can really interfere with your quality of life.

If you’re dealing with headaches, know that there are ways to manage the pain. But it also helps to know what’s causing your headaches. The doctors at Choice Pain & Rehabilitation Center, with seven offices in Maryland, offer this helpful information about the most common causes of headache.

The different types of headaches

Even though all headaches include some type of pain in your head, there are different types of headaches. Each type of headache may have unique causes and respond differently to treatments. The primary types of headaches include:

Tension headaches

Tension headaches are among the most common types of headache. They typically occur on both sides of the head and cause mild to moderate pain. They usually last for a few hours but may last for a couple of days.

Migraine headaches

Migraine headaches are particularly miserable. Most people who get migraine headaches find them to be quite disabling. They can occur on one or both sides of the head and cause moderate to severe pain. Many people also experience nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light. Migraines can last for hours, but it is common for them to last for several days. 

Different causes of headaches

Headaches can have a wide variety of causes. Sometimes, headaches are secondary to another condition, such as a sinus infection. But the most common causes of headaches include:

Dietary choices

Certain foods and beverages can make headaches more likely to occur. Alcohol is a big contributing factor. Many people find that wine, beer, or whiskey trigger headaches.

Other triggers include certain types of aged cheese and food additives, such as monosodium glutamate (MSG) and nitrites or nitrates. MSG is a flavor-enhancing ingredient added to Chinese food and many processed foods. Nitrites and nitrates are preservatives found in processed meats like lunch meat and bacon.

Dehydration

Health experts always tell you to drink more water, which is good for you for so many reasons. Not drinking enough water can contribute to headaches. Up to 75 percent of Americans may be chronically dehydrated. Aim to drink 8 to 10 glasses of water a day, and you may find that your headaches go away.

Medication

Certain medications list headaches as a possible side effect, including many commonly used antidepressants. Medications you take to relieve headaches can also cause more headaches. These are called rebound headaches and are likely to occur when you’re regularly taking pain relievers or triptan drugs. Rebound headaches are most likely to happen if you exceed the recommended dosage of the medication.

Hormones

Women are more likely than men to experience headaches, especially migraines. This is due to the fluctuating hormones in a woman’s body. These changing hormones throughout the menstrual cycle and pregnancy can cause frequent headaches. 

Stress

Everyone deals with stress sometimes; it’s a part of our modern life. But unfortunately, sometimes stress can lead to headaches. When you’re under stress, you may tense up the muscles in your neck and shoulders. This usually results in a tension headache.

Caffeine withdrawal

Caffeine is a double-edged sword. Sometimes, a little bit of caffeine can provide headache relief. But if you regularly consume caffeine -- especially if you usually consume more than two drinks a day -- you may get caffeine withdrawal headaches. These typically occur when you skip having a caffeinated drink when your body expects it.

In addition to being unpleasant, headaches can also sometimes be a sign of something more serious. If you’re experiencing regular headaches, it’s important to come see us and get checked out. Call the doctors at Choice Pain & Rehabilitation Center in Hyattsville, Gaithersburg, Lanham, Dundalk, Pikesville, Olney, and Rosedale, Maryland, or book an appointment online.

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